TWV: Welcome to The Wildcat’s Victory, Yohan. So pleased you could meet with us.
“I’m pleased to be here – as I was also glad to be able to play a small part in Gisel’s victory in that campaign along the Abersholm River.”
TWV: Yes, you actually got into some of the action – blowing the charges at Blackrock Ford to keep the Imperial cavalry from getting to the rear of her position.
“As it worked out, although at the time I only had a general idea how important it was to prevent them from crossing.”
TWV: I suppose having the active war experience has been a plus for a banker who happens to be married to the most admired, and feared, woman in the world.
“I think that’s rather an exaggeration, but I have to admit that friends are often surprised when they learn who I married. I admit to not being the most martial of men.”
TWV: In conventional society on Gaia, the idea of a woman becoming a combat officer is surely a topic of surprise … and even censure?
“(Laugh) And Gisel, I fear, enjoys the notoriety. Some social circles are less welcoming than a banker’s family would otherwise expect, but we also have an entry into others that make up for it.”
TWV: Your own father has been the most difficult, I believe.
“He was bitterly opposed to my engagement with her … and still expresses considerable doubts about our union. We are hopeful that he will relent and accept her once we have the opportunity to visit him in Lingdon … with his first grandson.”
TWV: But the marriage … although unconventional by Gaian standards … has been good for you both?
“Certainly for me, and I believe Gisel has been happy. Our duties take us away from home too much, for us to quarrel when we are together.”
TWV: You did quarrel in The Wildcat’s Victory.
“Yes, to our regret. But I think everyone learned not to stress the Partnership with commercial and political subterfuge again. Gisel and I have benefitted from the change.”
TWV: You still travel a great deal on Felger and Partnership business, I believe, while Gisel is liable to be called away at short notice by Iskander Security.
“That happens even when we are both together at the Governor’s Mansion in Skrona. We try to breakfast together most mornings but then likely never meet again until dinner – sometimes a formal affair that means we pay more attention to our guests than to one another.”
TWV: And now your son is born – do you find it difficult to spend time as a family, just the three of you?
“That’s not unusual on Gaia. Husbands rarely become involved in their children’s lives until they are older. Girls must then be assessed for marriage prospects and boys must be groomed for manhood. Wives too, usually hand over the care and raising of children to nurses and governesses. Gisel is being totally unconventional in taking over as much of the care of her child as she can manage … even feeding and, er, changing the child.”
TWV: (Chuckle) And do you help in that direction?
“Hmm! I may accept a modicum of unconventionality, but there I some issues where I draw the line.”
TWV: Gaian husbands customarily continue as much of their social lives after marriage as they do when single. Do you have your clubs, your male get-togethers?
“Gisel frowns on such things, but when I’m away from home it is impossible for me to avoid accompanying business contacts and other Felger cousins to their social events. In Skrona, most of my socialising away from her is business oriented in some manner.”
TWV: She has her women’s issues and meetings, too.
“Yes … and I have to admit they often present difficulties in my business.”
TWV: In what way?
“Gaian society does not accord any of the rights and privileges to women that Iskander – and your Earth – think normal. I do my best to advise Gisel how far she might take her efforts in that direction, but some men are violently opposed to any change at all in the status of women.”
TWV: And this is detrimental to business?
“(sigh) I cannot put a figure to it, of course. Iskander and partnership business is too lucrative for anyone to refuse it because of such scruples, but the tone of some business dealings are … made more tense if the client has recently heard or seen one of her controversial pamphlets or legislative proposals. Skrona is held to be the most scandalous city in the world, where women may live and dress as they will – even go to school!”
TWV: Have you actually lost friends or associates on this account?
“I’d like to say not, but I don’t see some as much as I used. On the other hand some older friend circles have actually increased. My student contemporaries from the Lingdon Academy are forever badgering me to take her to the city to meet them … but then they are, I admit, a rather scandalous collection of rakes and ne’er-do-wells. Fine fellows and clever, many of them, who live on rich allowances from their family estates, but quite carried away by Iskander ideas. I’m sure she could convince them to join her in her quest for women’s rights.”
TWV: And workers’ rights?
“Ah – let’s keep out of that topic. None of my business associates want anything to do with such ideas.”
TWV: Absolutely none?
“One or two forward looking individuals have looked at improving the lot of their workers – to see if it actually raises production and profits. The results are not yet clear.”
TWV: And in the Felger and Partnership companies – you have adopted some of the policies?
“Iskander has sent me some specialists to introduce and monitor new workplace rules and procedures. I would not have accepted them without Gisel’s assurance that some of the workers’ leaders are actually her or Iskander’s own people, and unlikely to foment bloody revolution. I have tried to convince my cousins in the other Felger branches that the huge advantages Iskander offers to nations will not be lost if the people are given a share.”
TWV: Gisel suggests the changes are inevitable, but Iskander’s gradual approaches are more likely to see them accepted peacefully.
“I hope they will be proven correct, but my position requires me to keep well clear of any public association with these radical ideas. While I do my uttermost to promote Iskander’s technology, in matters of social change I have to be strictly neutral.”
TWV: Ever the cautious banker, I see. Thank you so much for stopping by to speak to us. I think I’ll ask Gisel’s father to visit next time.